A biologist’s ode to his mother

Transcribed lyrics after the jump:

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On emulation play and dollhouses

Supposition: Toy kitchens are killing dollhouses. Discuss.

Backstory: I saw an awesome four-story handmade dollhouse at my daughter’s friend’s home this weekend during a birthday party. The dad built the house a few years ago for his now 6-year-old daughter. She never played with it.

This monster cube of a home, perhaps 4′ x 4′ x 4′, serves as a paper weight at the entrance to their living room. The dad is a stage set designer. Rest assured, this house is something.

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Happy Mother’s Day

Photo of a husband holding his wife's hand as she lies in a hospital bed during child birth with an anguished look on her face. The husband's T-Shirt bears the following message: I did this to you.

Photo via user Supershale on reddit.com. He had the shirt specially made for his child’s birth.

Balloon Balls for Babies

Photo of two cotton fabric covers on fully inflated balloons.

It seems balloons are not safe for babies. I never gave it much thought. I give my kid a balloon, he slathers his tongue all over it, and I yank it away for the next few years. Case closed.

Then I give him a ping-pong ball. Boy he looks funny with that in his mouth, but not as funny as when Mom tries to get it back out.

Anyhow, apparently you bad parents out there let your kids wreak havoc, pop balloons and then your babies choke on the pieces you failed to pick up.

So this is what we’ve come to… fabric protective covers for balloons.

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Electron Boy

Photo from the Seattle Times showing a boy in a red superhero costume zapping a villain in black clothing and cape with a glowing sword while surrounded by a crowd. A second villain shirks in fear from a wheelchair, which appears to be part of a hospital-themed costume.

The Seattle Times has a story about a boy with cancer becoming a super hero for a day.

Courtesy of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Electron Boy was whisked from his home in a DeLorean by Lightning Lad and Moonshine Maid. A 20-officer motorcade cleared highways as Electron Boy sped to Qwest Field to rescue the Seattle Sounders soccer team — which was locked in its locker room by Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy. Afterward, Dr. Dark appeared on the Jumbotron, foolishly revealing his evil plans, as villains always do. Electron Boy then sped to Puget Sound Electric’s headquarters to save an employee from a bucket truck and foil Dr. Dark’s plans to cut electricity to the entire city as a crowd of adoring Electron Boy fans cheered.

Here is the Sounders’ regular sportcast covering the incident. Beautiful quotes on the part of the soccer players…

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Golden Boy died today

Somber photo of my daughter and son holding Golden Boy for one last time.

My daughter and son holding Golden Boy for the last time.

Golden Boy joined our family in October 2008. We accompanied our daughter on her preschool field trip to a farm only to discover the dark truth about what really happens on farms. We saw fields upon fields of pumpkins severed from their vines, left out to be sold to strangers or to rot — whichever happened first.

It goes without saying, the kids were in tears. What words can explain it? We promised our daughter we would rescue as many squash as possible that day, as far as the cash in our pockets would allow. The pumpkins came home and found a warm, dry perch atop a baker’s rank overlooking our dinner table.

There would be no pumpkin pie. No baked and salted seeds. No carved  jack-o-lanterns. We were caretakers.

The pumpkins had a good run, some semblance of a life observing a family grow around them, an alien experience I’m sure, but better than a moldy, spongy death alone in the mud of winter rains.

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Teaching art to young children

My daughter's drawing of an American Robin done in colored pencil. It depicts a Robin in flight, having taken off from a wooden post.

I’ve been eyeing a local Audubon Society art contest for my daughter since she was 3-years-old. We’ve viewed a gallery of contest entries for the past two years at a spring birding festival.

Now that my daughter is 5-years-old, she qualified for the minimum age limit. You pick a bird, draw it on 8×11 paper and submit it. Simple. She picked an American Robin because we often “watch it eat lunch in our back yard.” She drew the Robin from a photo as part of her bedtime routine, drawing the same bird each night for five nights. Each night her bird looked better than the previous evening. We offered to give her a different photo to study, but she wanted to retry the same one each night.

She won second place in her age category. She was proud at winning. I was pleased. (The image above was scanned after the drawing was folded and mailed back to us.)

In the build up to the contest, I had lobbied a couple parents in her school’s Parent Teacher Organization with the idea of having the whole school participate next year. But at the birding festival, I became bothered when looking over the winning drawings. I realized birders value technical drawing — realism — in depicting birds.

Ehhh, that’s only one type of art. So, a better idea struck me.

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A Compelling Argument

Facebook creative writing

A Facebook friend, and recently babyfied mother, posted a link to The Story of Stuff on her Facebook ‘wall’ this week. The following 20 minute video summarizes everything that is wrong with our consumption of products today.

She watched it with a perspective on how she’s approaching baby products. Namely, she requested only used items for her baby shower and suggested to guests a couple second-hand stores that could easily meet the need.

In this quickie blog post I’m pasting a couple of my comments from the Facebook discussion about stuff…
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The new cosleeping

Cosleepers won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Incidentally, if you have a minute, post a comment on the Jasmine review. My daughter has been asking whether anyone commented and she wants to see what people said. She believes she has a promising career as a blogger. Yeah, I haven’t taught her about money yet.

Book Review: Jasmine

Image of the book Jasmine, depicting two children petting and hugging a cat.

Today’s book review comes by way of my 5-year-old daughter.  Here is the backstory…

Our elementary school celebrated César Chávez Day on March 31. It’s a state holiday in California for the Mexican-American labor leader and civil rights activist. The day is commemorated through community service.

Each grade level performed a service project for the community or one that built school pride. Second graders cleaned up a walking trail, fifth graders worked in a community garden, and so forth.

First graders collected donations from school families to assemble hygiene kits for homeless advocate Betty Chinn (Oprah watchers know her).

Chinn later gave a talk at the school about her childhood persecution in China under Mao Zedong and the life lessons she has learned. She essentially lived homeless, eating garbage, and not talking until she was 4-years-old. Chinn eventually walked 1,000 miles to Hong Kong, and then found her way to America. In the US, she had the following observation: “Sesame Street became my best friend. [I learned that] if Oscar the Grouch can be happy living in garbage, I can be happy too.”

Anyhow… my daughter’s kindergarten class project was reading books to seniors from a neighboring assisted living facility. The students could bring their own book or read a classroom book, so my daughter jumped at the chance.

She chose a home book from a series by the Humane Society of the United States that she has enjoyed since she was about three-years-old. Some of the stories detail the real experiences of abused animals and their rescue and rehabilitation. Other stories detail real experiences of wild animals, such as a manatee or grizzly bear.

I enjoy the illustrations in the series, most color pencil drawings by Randy Houk, who also authored the books. A few of the books have other authors and illustrators featuring painted scenes.

My daughter’s review is below. She typed it on an old laptop we picked up for free (thanks Craigslist!). She referred to it as her “work” as in, “Can I use my computer Papa? I need to do my work.”

She also learned the importance of proper back-up procedures when she lost most of her review and had to retype it. We haven’t begun her computer education, so she types quite slow. The following review was composed over several sessions over several days:

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Mmm, Bacon Baby Formula

A tub of Bacon Baby which is bacon flavored instant baby formula.The slogan of J&D’s Foods is “Everything should taste like bacon.” The company makes Bacon Salt, Baconnaise (mayonnaise), Bacon Pop (popcorn), Bacon Ranch (salad dressing), Bacon Lip Balm, and MMMvelopes (envelopes with sealing glue that tastes like bacon).

So, why not sell bacon baby formula, too?

Of course, it’s an April Fools joke. Of course? Well, WCPO Channel 9 in Cincinnati covered the story  (sorry, for some reason they’ve deleted their online news report, I can’t imagine why).

J&D’s other bacon-themed products are apparently real.

The bacon formula was announced on the company’s website and in a news release filled with a lot of interesting factoids. It’s still visible on this linked fake sales page.

The sales pitch began with a genuine quote lifted from the website of the famous Dr. Sears, reciting the importance of fat consumption for early brain development.

Then the bacon-loving company wrote:

So we consulted with pediatricians and began to experiment with drying and grinding bacon into a fine powder, then applying a patent-pending process to concentrate this powder into the most essential nutrients and ingredients for brain development. This potential infant superfood was then added to a test subject’s infant formula.

The results were absolutely impressive. By the age of 4 months, our test subject started to exhibit some amazing abilities including walking and talking. By 6 months of age, she could read and memorize her early stage children’s books and showed an extreme level of coordination and balance – so much so that she was enrolled in gymnastics and ballet with children 5 years older than she was! At two years old, she read her first 300 page book, memorized the Declaration of Independence and (this is absolutely true) began composing her first symphony.

Now, it’s absurd to put real bacon in baby formula, but why the hell not make bacon-flavored formula? I mean, assuming babies actually like the flavor.

J&D’s could also produce bacon-flavored teething rings, bacon-scented diaper wipes and butt paste, bacon jelly (PB&BJ) and expand into global markets with Kosher Baby Bacon Formula.

The Yippity Yo Cooking Show

Three-year-old Zaylee Jean debuts in her Yippity Yo Cooking Show telling us how to make Grandma Wendy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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An adorable or disturbing 5-year-old

Here’s a 5-year-old giving a speech on opening day for the Boston Red Sox. It’s a rendition of the speech given by Herb Brooks before the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team match with the USSR, adjusted for baseball.

At first I thought it was cute. But then, you know, someone had to teach and train the kid. Here he is on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and apparently practicing in his home.

I’m all for infusing your kids with your love for a sport, are even a TV show, but is that the same thing? I put it in the same category as teaching a 2-year-old to recite the names of countries and then going on TV to show off your seemingly amazing child.

Hevisaurus: heavy metal children’s music

How do you dress up heavy metal music for a children’s audience? By dressing up!

Heavisaurus (“heavy-saurus”) is a Finnish metal band that dresses and performs as bipedal dinosaurs.

Their first album, Jurahevin kuninkaat, near as I can figure from the Google News archive, reached 31 in Finland’s top 40 album sales in March of last year.

A concert video:

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